Otaku Corner: Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 2

Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 2 tackles war, death

Editor’s note: Contains descriptions of drug use, suicide, use of children as war combatants and abuse involving medical treatment.

I previously reviewed Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt, a Gundam story that takes place at the same time of the original series but has two new characters taking part in battles between Earth and Zeon forces for the “Thunderbolt sector” during the One Year War. Volume 2 shows war and its nearly irreparable effect where no one is untouched. The advisory warning given may not be enough, so I would like to apologize to readers that may become triggered.

At the end of the first volume, the first encounter between Io Fleming and Daryl Lorenz ended with Io gaining the win through use of a prototype Gundam known as “Full Armor.” The Moore Brotherhood fleet uses the momentum to launch an ambush on the Zeon fleet. The ambush resulted in major blows dealt to the Zeon fleet, losing crew and Zakus, but Captain Claudia Peer was disappointed that the attack failed to eliminate the Zeon fleet guarding the Thunderbolt sector. As both sides regrouped from the battle, Daryl is subjected to another medical procedure; this time his hands are amputated by Zeon medical staff to continue research on the experimental Zaku known as “Psycho Zaku.” During the procedure, Daryl reminisces about himself and his dad Christmas shopping, and he sees the radio that he now uses in battle to listen to music. After the operation, Daryl is promoted to ensign with orders to pilot the Psycho Zaku in the next battle against the Moore Brotherhood fleet.

Elsewhere, the fleet is readying for the next battle by receiving new supplies, new mobile suits and new pilots that range from ages 10 to 17 who are pulled from Federation refugee camps. As the preparations continue, Io has a flashback in which he and the staff of his family’s home finds his father, the mayor of the Moore space colony, dead from shooting himself in the head. As Io drifts further into the flashback, his friend Cornelius Kaka tells him that he is instructed to lead the next assault on the Thunderbolt sector with the new recruits. Not pleased with this mission, Io goes to confront Claudia in her quarters and finds her in a drug overdose in which he awakens her asking why she was using drugs, which affects her ability to lead the fleet. Claudia responds sharply that Io’s father is responsible for the deaths of Moore’s citizens and calls him a selfish coward with no feelings.

Meanwhile, Daryl speaks with Zeon scientist Kara Mitchum, who helps him with his space suit and confesses that she cut off his right hand and apologizes to him. Daryl forgives her and continues his readiness for the battle ahead. When both forces meet in the Thunderbolt sector, a fierce battle begins with most of the new recruits dying instantly, including one that attempted to warn the Moore fleet, but Daryl kills him and immediately trails the Brotherhood fleet. Once the fleet appears, Daryl using the Psycho Zaku, destroys the entire fleet. As Claudia gives evacuation orders, her second in command Graham shoots her, believing that she was too weak to fight Zeon. The remnants of the Moore fleet were able to capture the Zeon vessel, Dried Fish. With this second battle ending in a draw, Io and Daryl remain dedicated to destroying the other as thunder and death cheer from the sidelines.

Volume 2 accomplished its mission in separating from the campy side of Gundam that it’s known for. Ohtagaki-san’s writing and art indisputably does the Gundam legacy justice. Reading each chapter, I felt the waves of anguish from Io and Daryl but am glad that their need for survival did not override their ability to show compassion to others. As the manga continues, each character had a back story making me question who is providing mental health counseling during this war. While I won’t say that Zeon forces are angels, I was incensed that the Earth Federation sunk to a horrible low using children (CHILDREN!) as pilots to fight because they had early new type abilities. I was also taken aback that a character in a Gundam story resorted to use drugs to deal with pressure of being a high-ranking official in a military environment where she can rarely afford the luxury of emotion.

Seeing Graham’s disgusting betrayal toward a fellow comrade also incensed me, especially since Claudia was doing her responsibility of saving her crew. I also found a profile in cowardice in Zeon scientist JJ Sexton, who claims he was saving the Psycho Zaku data but pushed injured people out of an escape pod, saving his pitiful hide. Despite the sadness in Volume 2, Viz Media’s Joe Yamazaki and STAN! were brilliant with translation and English adaptation work, making this volume worth re-reading.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt Volume 2 continues its brutal, yet unflinching view of war between Earth and space. With a stage of destiny set, Io Fleming and Daryl Lorenz vow to remove each other from that stage. I’m excited for future installments of this great Gundam manga.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

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Top 5 List: DC characters edition

1. Atrocitus: First of all, the guy and his cat look cool. Finding them on the character select screen of Injustice 2 is like Christmas coming early because I’m already intrigued at what they possibly can do. Add in his back story as the leader of the Red Lantern Corps and you have one of the best DC villains.

2. The Joker: The eternal archnemesis of Batman is beloved at GI for many reasons, but generally his history of chaos is the driving reason. No matter who portrays him – Jack Nicholson is our favorite version – the character still makes us laugh until we can’t.

3. Batman: Of course, if the Joker is on this list, you know Batman is as well. Batman – Bruce Wayne only – is our favorite DC hero for a long list of reasons, and be rest assured that they don’t involve how much prep time he has. Batman doesn’t need prep time. He’s just that dangerous with a little money in his pocket.

4. Darkseid: The Apokolips villain appears on a few lists here at GI when it comes to favorite DC characters, mostly because he’s a bad dude. Anyone who employs a person named Granny Goodness is entitled to a bad dude label. Also, the Omega Sanction is one of the coolest named and actual moves ever created in comic books.

5. Black Adam: The supervillain is one of a kind, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s now being drawn to look like The Rock. Strong enough to take on Superman and cocky enough to hold his own also, Black Adam has enough swagger to take down the Justice League and mean it.

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Strip Talk #38: We’d prefer MK lost its focus on guest characters

I, like most decent, red-blooded Americans, love video games and comic books. I mean, that should be obvious by now. Also, what should be obvious is that I love Mortal Kombat. The vehicle you’re reading this sentence in has been the subject of many MK musings and will definitively be in about two issues. Everything MK.

What’s a little less obvious, however, is how much I love The Boys. I promise you, long before it was fashionable, I was trying to get my hands on Garth Ennis’ masterful satire take on the superhero genre. So, color me not surprised when the live-action version of the graphic novel became a bonafide hit. Also color me not surprised when Homelander – the over-the-top murderous Superman analogue – started showing up everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Antony Starr as Homelander. You’re really tuning in to see what he’s going to say and do in every season. He is the star and the draw of the show, after all. But let’s get back to Mortal Kombat for a second. You know what’s the draw and star of the franchise? The ridiculous, over-the-top ways you can kill fictional characters. Murderous Superman analogue and murderous game franchise combining to let you play as murderous Superman analogue? What could go wrong?(TM) Let’s explore that.

First of all, it’s been made plainly clear many times that Homelander is functionally immortal and impervious to a lot of things. There isn’t even kryptonite to slow him down, because he’s not a native of a planet that exploded because of it; he just plays one on TV. So, how exactly are we going to kill Homelander? Second, how does Homelander (and by extension Omni-Man and Peacemaker) exist in this universe? They are fictional characters doing a guest spot in a universe that doesn’t acknowledge most other fictional universe elements around it with the exception of random guest characters. Third, why hasn’t Mortal Kombat as a franchise learned its lesson about guest characters yet? They keep shoehorning these extra characters in when there are so many more neglected MK characters to revive and fan favorites that other folks want playable (Editor’s note: I’m shouting out Sareena for my habibi Yiannis). No, I don’t want Jason from Friday the 13th. No, I don’t want Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street. No, I don’t want Omni-Man or Homelander. I want Sareena or Jade. Hell, I’ll even take Khameleon/Chameleon because at least I know them. What I don’t want is some rando from a franchise that has nothing to do with Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat world building has always been about the tournament, the realms, fighting for life and death. It is not about the latest and greatest random character that happens to be awesome in pop culture.

These additional characters just randomly showing up as fighters in the Kombat Packs is the very definition of doing too much. Instead of wasting time on characters that shouldn’t be there, maybe flesh out some of the older ones that the NetherRealm crew seems to act like don’t exist. There are 77 total characters created. Surely, one or a few can be chosen to flesh out the packs if they don’t make the main roster. This need to jump to guest characters is annoying as an MK elder. Get that pop culture off my MK lawn, whippersnappers.

Lyndsey Beatty is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyb@gaminginsurrection.com

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Property Review: Loki Season 2

Loki Season 2
Marvel Studios, 2023

Loki Season 2 worth the wait

What a ride. Loki has consistently proven himself to be the showstopper we all knew him to be after the first Thor film. Whether it’s stealing the Tesseract (and scenes) in Avengers or stealing hearts in Thor: Ragnarök, we all knew that Loki had a ton of mischief to get up to and quality to uphold when his solo show was announced. And, boy, was that done well.
We’ve discussed at length in the Strip about the first season of the show, how glorious it was (Editor’s note: See Issue 40), and how we were eagerly anticipating the second season. In the two years between airings, we dissected everything about the show and the implications for the future of the MCU. We lauded Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the mainstay villain and his redemption arc turning him into the antihero we always knew him to be. But, we had questions about where it was going to go and how it would look once we got here. And now we’re here. And it is glorious.

Season 2 picks up where we last left off with Loki tumbling back into the TVA and realizing he’s somewhere … different. One of the questions we had in the Season 1 finale was, where or when is Loki? It was a big twist that we felt had huge implications with its answer. We were correct, because given that it’s a show about time, immediately answering that it’s when that’s important here sets the tone for the entirety of Season 2. You’re going to go on a fantastic journey through space and time, mostly focused on the branching of time and weaving of time. Most importantly, we get origin stories for our now-beloved characters and a more coherent understanding of the multiverse and variants.

The best part of all of this is Hiddleston and the surrounding cast. We’re always impressed with the way Hiddleston gives us glimpses into Loki’s being and then blows us away with a quiet moment that no one sees coming. His depth and skill at playing this character after 12 years is outstanding and further cements the fact that he is the best part of it all, even now. His surrounding cast is also impressive.

Owen Wilson – who has quietly and consistently crept into the conversation of meaty range and depth over the years – absolutely shines here as Mobius. His performance makes it feel as if he’s always been part of the crew of Marvel, and we hope there is more Mobius to go around in the future.

Sophia Di Martino is another standout, and we need to go on record for a minute to talk about her chemistry with Hiddleston. She knocks it out of the park in every scene – with special mention for episode 5’s record store scene – and they are phenomenal together in every scene this season. The growth that both actors put into who could be one-dimensional characters is obvious and we love to see it.

Jonathan Majors continues to be fantastic in his portrayal of Kang and his variants, with us noting that he effortlessly showed us different versions of the same man in a million different ways. He is to be lauded and we await the outcome of his off-screen troubles because it has major implications for where Kang will go and become.

Wunmi Mosaku as B-15 continues to be fantastic as well. We have learned to look to her measured portrayal as the voice of reason in an otherwise chaotic show and she does it with a ton of aplomb and stoic reason. We’re looking for Mosaku in a lot of other things from now on.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw continues to delight as Ravonna Renslayer. Learning her motivations this season and watching her unravel in her quest to understand what the TVA was and is has been a joy. We don’t know where she’s going from here, but Mbatha-Raw is fun to watch.

And last but not least, series newcomer Ke Huy Quan has been absolutely fun to watch. He shows up in the first episode and makes an immediately favorable first impression, knocking our socks off with his quick-witted delivery and enthusiasm. He’s quickly become one of our favorite characters, and we hope OB hangs around to keep the TVA solid. He’s crucial and we’re glad to see him join our ragtag band of time jumpers.
Support characters Casey and Brad/X-5 are also fun additions, and we’re glad to see they were fleshed out just as much as the rest of the crew. And the call back from Casey’s not knowing what a fish was in the first episode of Season 1 versus his origin story mention in Season 2 was an especially nice touch.

Now that we know where Loki is going with its Season 2 finale – and how it ties into the future of the MCU, we’re sad and anxious because it means no more Loki. The story has been told and Loki has gained his glorious purpose, but he’s around. Will he be around for more story? It’s hard to tell, but what a ride it has been to get here with this review. Our MCU savior is apparently here. And glorious.

Acting: 10
Like the comics: 10
Production: 10

Total score: 30/30 or 10

HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

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Marvel Character Highlight #36: Gambit

Name: Remy Etienne LeBeau

Alias: Gambit, Horseman of Death

Affiliation: X-Men, Thieves Guild, Excalibur, X-Factor, Marauders, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Chevaliers, X-Treme Sanctions Executive, Crimson Pirates, Unified Guild of New Orleans

Special abilities: Kinetic “charging” of potential energy in objects/beings, molecular cell acceleration, regenerative healing, master thief, gifted intellect

Background: Remy LeBeau began life on the streets of New Orleans as a thief. He pickpocketed the head of the Thieves Guild and the leader took him into the clan. Over time, he fell in love with the leader’s daughter and planned to marry her. However, her brother objected to the marriage, and Gambit killed him in a self-defense duel. After he was exiled, he found Mr. Sinister and enlisted his help in managing his mutant powers.

Sinister helped but this left Gambit indebted, which Sinister naturally exploited. Sinister then sent Gambit on a mission to the Morlock tunnels, where Gambit learned he was to wipe out the fellow mutants. He resisted and was attacked and left for dead by his fellow Marauder Sabretooth. He did manage to save the future mutant known as Marrow. Once he left the Marauders, he met Storm of the X-Men, who sponsored his team membership. It was also how he met and fell in love with his soulmate Rogue. After a long courtship, the two mutants were married while remaining on the team. Shortly after, the future time-traveling mutant known as Bishop joined the team to warn of a traitor who would destroy the X-Men from within in his timeline. Bishop originally believed the traitor to be Gambit, but eventually it was revealed to be the psionic mutant menace known as Onslaught.

Relationships: Rogue (Anna Marie LeBeau), wife; Mystique (Raven Darkholme), mother-in-law; Destiny (Irene Adler), mother-in-law; Graydon Creed, brother-in-law; Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), brother-in-law; Belladonna, former fiancée

First Versus appearance: X-Men vs. Street Fighter

Appearances in other media:
Television: X-Men: The Animated Series, X-Men ’97 (planned appearance), Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men: Evolution, Wolverine and the X-Men

Film: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Video games: Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge, X-Men (1993), X-Men 2: Clone Wars, X-Men: Gamesmaster’s Legacy, X-Men: Mojo World, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, Wolverine: Adamantium Rage, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, X-Men: Mutant Academy, X-Men: Mutant Academy 2, X-Men: Next Dimension, X-Men Legends, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, X-Men: Destiny, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel Heroes, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel: Future Fight, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel Super War, Fortnite, Marvel Snap

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Anime Lounge: Junjou Romantica 3

Series: Junjou Romantica 3

Episodes: 1-12

Premise: This is the third season of the acclaimed boys’ love series, and things are settling down for the couples in Junjou Romantica, Egoist, Terrorist and new series Mistake. The new season sees the lead couple, Misaki and Akihiko, learning how to adapt to their changing relationship and what it means for Misaki to become a full-fledged adult. Misaki must think about graduating from college and getting a job, and together the duo must figure out how to explain their growing relationship to Takahiro, Misaki’s older brother and Akihiko’s best friend.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. This is, so far, the final season of the series and it’s been a fun ride to see how the couples grow. If you’ve invested in the couples, you’ll want to see how everything shakes out. There are also more rivals for Misaki’s heart, which makes things interesting.

Breakout character: Misaki. Sure, he’s the lead character, but he makes leaps and bounds of growth and comes into his own. He stands out, finally, because he should, and he starts to finally become a fully fleshed-out lead uke.

Where it’s going?: This is the end for the three couples, though some of characters make a few cameos in the spinoff Sekaiichi Hatsukoi.

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Otaku Corner: High School of the Dead

High School of the Dead relives the goriest of days

During the Covid-19 pandemic, I prohibited myself from games such as Yakuza: Dead Souls and horror-based anime like Hellsing to keep myself from needlessly doing harm to my mental health. Now that society is opening again, I’m reviewing an anime series that reflected Covid-19’s fearful grip on our world: High School of the Dead.
Based on the manga of the same name by the late Daisuke Saito and illustrated by Shoji Sato, HOTD tells the story of high-schooler Takashi Komuro and his classmates along with their high school’s nurse who struggles to survive a deadly pandemic known as the “outbreak,” which turns healthy humans into zombies. As the outbreak reaches across the world, Takashi and the others attempt to find their families while fending off zombies and uninfected survivors with mental trauma during the outbreak’s conquest of Japan.
HOTD is a far cry from the typical school and horror anime genres. In the first half, Takashi started out as a usual teenager caring about himself but begins to grow into a leader of zombie survivors. He saves Rei Miyamoto and their friend Hisashi, who is gravely wounded by zombies, forcing Takashi to kill him with a blow to the head. Takashi and Rei meet other classmates, Saya Takagi, Kohta Hirano, Saeko Busujima and their school nurse Shizuka Marikawa who advises using the school’s club bus to leave the campus. Despite finding other survivors and escaping the school, the group is briefly separated by the actions of their surviving teacher Koichi Shido and a bus carrying zombies crashing while on the streets of Tokonosu City. After reuniting and battling zombies on Onbesu Bridge, Shizuka suggests staying at her friend’s home briefly to recover and replenish supplies.
The second half introduces two new members of Takashi’s group: Alice Maresato, whose father was killed by crazed survivors trying to find shelter; and, Zeke, a small puppy who protected Alice from zombies before Takashi arrived. The group continues their quest to find their families, agreeing to go to Saya’s home first. While en route, they come under attack by zombies and are saved by firefighters led by Saya’s mother. However, Takashi and Saeko are forced to lure the other zombies from their comrades. A day later, the group is reunited at Saya’s heavily fortified mansion where they rest and get repairs for their equipment and vehicle, but soon the debate of staying with adults versus continuing their journey begins.
At this juncture, Shido and his students arrive at Saya’s home, forcing Rei to use her rifle to kill Shido for injustice to her father. After Takashi’s encouragement of Rei to remember her honor, she backs down, resulting in Saya’s father banishing Shido students. At the end of the series, the succeeding U.S. president ordered use of nuclear weapons to end the zombie outbreak and deter America’s adversaries. The final episode starts as the U.S. and Japanese militaries shoot down nuclear missiles from China. However, a missile got through the defenses, resulting in an electro-magnetic pulse that renders all unprotected electronics useless. During this event, zombies attack the Takagi mansion, killing various survivors. Learning of another safe area, Saya’s parents instruct their employees and remaining survivors to fight to gain access to it. The group, with Saya’s parents’ blessing, take Saya and heads out of the mansion with their vehicle. After battling with a zombie mob that left their vehicle seriously damaged, the group makes its way to a local mall by foot, optimistic for their future.
I can honestly say that this series is one that I’ve heavily invested my time in watching. HOTD is well written and has the usual selling points of a good anime series and also touched on issues such as mental health and societal pressure on affluent individuals like Saya. Saito-san showcased each character with various issues and, at certain times, allowed them to have moments of happiness while the world was crumbling apart. I’m also applauding Saito-san for doing research on various weapons, vehicles, and groups such as Japan’s special assault team officers who are battling the zombies.
The music in HOTD is spectacular, as the opening theme by Kishida Kyoudan and the Akeboshi Rockets is upbeat, making you feel as if you, too, are fighting the zombies. The animation is polished in high definition and directed by the well-known Tetsuro Araki (Death Note, Attack on Titan). Sentai Filmworks did an awesome job on the English dub with Steven Foster and Kaoru Bertand handling English adaption, direction and translation duties. The voice cast, led by Monica Rial as Shizuka and Leraldo Anzaldua as Takashi, performed excellently in each episode, which enhances the appeal of the anime adaptation.
The only downside I had was the overreach of the near hentai-level fan service with close ups on the female characters’ breasts and panty shots. It was almost too much and nearly caused the series to be a Dumpster fire. Thankfully, HOTD sticks to the horror/school life anime genre and nothing else.
High School of the Dead is indisputably a new classic. Although I wanted to watch Takashi and company continue their quest in a new normal, I cannot because of the death of Saito-san. However, I offer some advice to prevent a similar event: Wash your hands and practice good hygiene, wear a mask, and stay home from work, school and cons if you’re sick. Your fellow geeks will thank you.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

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Top 5 List: X-Men Villains edition

1. Magneto: Professor Xavier’s best friend-turned-arch nemesis is the quintessential arch villain. Magneto is always a threat, no matter where he is on Earth or in the universe. You can count on him to oppose the X-Men on general principle, even when he has to team up with them. And yet, there are arcs where he is the leader of the mutants, and others where he and Charles combine to become the malevolent near-omnipotent Onslaught.

2. Mr. Sinister: Sinister wreaks havoc solely because he’s obsessed with the Summers-Grey bloodline. He’s a weirdo, but he’s powerful and generally involved when he is least needed. His involvement has led to the creation of Cable, the Legacy Virus, and the death of Madelyne Pryor among other things. Never underestimate the power of weird when Mr. Sinister is involved.

3. Cassandra Nova: A mummudrai who is the twin sister of Charles Xavier, Cassandra Nova is behind a lot of the foolishness seen in later X-Men arcs where Xavier dies. She has a hatred of Charles because he won their battle in the womb. She’s gained sentience and a body and generally means to wipe out humanity at large, starting with the massacre of mutants on Genosha.

4. Stryfe: The time-traveling terrorist clone of Cable is terrifying for several reasons, starting with the Legacy Virus. In X-ecutioner’s Song, Stryfe created the Legacy Virus which started out affecting only mutants and then moved on to regular humans, too. The fact that he looks like Cable and that no one can tell them apart is a problem. Having the same processes as the Omega-level mutant is an even bigger problem.

5. Apocalypse: No list featuring X-Men baddies would be complete without mention of the greatest and first mutant, En Sabah Nur. Apocalypse has destroyed entire realities and been one of the most, if not the most, oppressive threats the X-Men has ever faced. Apocalypse’s intellect and capacity for creation and destruction is beyond comprehension, and he is the gold standard for most X-Men villains to look up to.

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Marvel Character Highlight #35: Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze)

Name: Johnathan Blaze

Alias: Johnny, Bonehead, Matchstick, Skullhead, Brimstone Avenger, Brother Blaze, The Burning Man, Spirit of Vengeance, Brimstone Biker

Affiliation: Midnight Sons, Quentin Carnival, Thunderbolts, The Nine, Defenders, The Champions, Avengers of the Supernatural, Savage Avengers, Legion of Monsters, Savage Avengers

Special abilities: Ghost Rider transformation, superhuman strength, stamina, durability and agility, regenerative healing factor, supernatural awareness, hellfire manipulation, soul manipulation, sin manipulation, ride symbiosis, dimensional travel, demon magic manipulation, mystical chain projection, Penance Stare, self-size alteration, exorcism, expert stunt riding skills, skilled hand-to-hand combatant, knowledge of the occult

Background: Johnny Blaze is the son of Barton Blaze, a stunt performer who died during a stunt; and, Naomi Kale, a woman whose maternal line was cursed to be bound to the demon Zarathos. The curse affected the first-born child of the line to become the Spirit of Vengeance. The curse made its way to Johnny through his mother and after his father died, Johnny was adopted by family friend Crash Simpson. Kale and Simpson made separate deals with the demon Mephisto to save Johnny from the life of a Ghost Rider and to cure Simpson of cancer, respectively, but each deal turned out to be a fool’s bargain. Johnny then made a deal with Mephisto to save Simpson from cancer, but Simpson was cured and then immediately died in a crash while attempting to set a world record. It was after the death of Simpson that Blaze transformed into the Ghost Rider for the first time.

Relationships: Roxanne Simpson, foster sister/wife; Craig Blaze, son; Emma Blaze, daughter

First Versus appearance: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Appearances in other media:
Television: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.

Film: Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Video games: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Ghost Rider, LittleBigPlanet (costume), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (cameo), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Heroes, Marvel: Future Fight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel Strike Force, Marvel’s Midnight Suns

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Property Review: Night Warriors – Darkstalkers’ Revenge (The Animated Series)

Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge
Madhouse Studios, 1997-1998

Darkstalkers OVA scares up thrills

Forget for a moment that you know anything about the Vampire series from Capcom. Yes, forget about the games and the god-awful USA Network animated series. You’re learning, for the first time, about the monsters and darkness that is Capcom’s side fighting game franchise, and you love anime, as well. Your introduction is this OVA of four episodes. Congratulations, you’ve gotten the best there is to offer in the animated series category that is Vampire/Darkstalkers. It’s time to get you educated.
Darkstalkers’ Revenge takes everything you could possibly love about the fighting game series and makes it digestible in anime form. The titular Darkstalkers are all here from the first and second game: Morrigan and Demitri are leading the charge as the faces of the franchise. Other favorites such as Felicia, Jon Talbain and Lord Raptor are here, too. You even get Donovan and Hsein-Ko in major roles. And that’s part of the joy of the story: You’re getting the full Darkstalkers experience without having to play the games. Sure, it’s preferable that you do play the series enough to know who’s who and what their motivation is, but it’s not necessary and this OVA does a great job of informing.
This isn’t necessarily your typical shonen anime, though. Demitri is an anti-hero here as he is in the games and Morrigan is as well. They fight each other for supremacy, however, and it’s only after the overall big bad Pyron is introduced that they stop for a moment to assess whether to get involved. Along the way, all of the other Darkstalkers are introduced and given some type of screen time, either as main characters or as cameos. The story is good as it follows the games very well, making more sense of the plot of the games than those properties actually do. The only gripe is that the ending is rushed and makes zero sense in the grand scheme of things. The ending is the only time where things jump off the rails as far as faithfulness to the games is concerned. The animation is smooth and fluid, the voicework is fantastic in the sub and mostly good in the dub, and the overall package holds up for a critiqued release 25 years later.
As a lover of all things Vampire/Darkstalkers – it should be obvious in this issue by now – we can highly recommend this OVA as a gateway to the drug that is the fright fight fest. It’s got fast-paced action, recognizable characters and is an excellent adaptation to a good series. Sharpen your fangs, this is only the beginning if you’re ready to delve into the world of myths and monsters of the dark.

Like the games?: 9
Voice work: 10
Animation: 10

Total score: 29/30 or 9.6

HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

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